Sunday, October 07, 2012

Sunday word, 07 Oct 2012

Open and Enter
27th Sunday of the Year B (07 Oct 2012)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
[Inaugural Eucharist for Year of Faith]
We gather this weekend to enter the Year of Faith. Last October Pope Benedict announced it. He noted that we can “think of the faith as...self-evident…. In reality, not only can [faith] no longer be taken for is often openly denied.”1 While it coincides with the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council and the 20th anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Pope Benedict made clear the purpose of this Year of Faith celebrates more than history and knowledge. This year’s purpose has been in his mind and heart from the time he became pope seven years ago. He said then he desires we move “‘out of the desert, towards the place of life, towards friendship with the Son of God, towards the One who gives us life, and life in abundance.’”2 Friendship with Jesus well summarizes the pope’s desire for each person and for the whole church. Pope Benedict recalled his desire as he announced this Year of Faith with his letter, “The Door of Faith.”

Important doors usually have keys. I offer you a key to open and enter the Year of Faith with a desire to befriend Jesus in a new and deeper way. Friendship with Jesus also describes each one’s vocation. Those who find friendship with Jesus worth exploring give me a ringing, “Amen!”

Amen is the key I offer. We say amen to indicate agreement at the end of prayers and others’ words of conviction. So be it translates it well. Amen’s Hebrew root means much more. Get ready to hear some: faithful, be faithful, believe, assurance, established, sure, make sure, trust, verified, steadfast, continuance, father, bring up, nurse, be nursed, support, surely be, stand fast, trusty, confirm, uphold, nourish.3

They remind us the first one who is faithful is God. Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations.4 God’s steadfast, compassionate love shapes God’s fidelity. God’s steadfast, compassionate love moved God to protect Abraham and to tell Moses, I have witnessed the affliction of my people in Egypt and have heard their cry against their taskmasters, so I know well what they are suffering. Therefore I have come down to rescue them from the power of the Egyptians and lead them up from that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey.5

St. Paul had those words in mind when he echoed them to the Corinthians: God is faithful, and by him you were called to fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.6 St. Paul had a relationship with Jesus; Jesus was no idea nor a dead person from the past. Jesus was Messiah and living Lord, the author and completer of our faith.7 St. Paul was also familiar with Jesus the way friends share their lives. The word fellowshipyou were called to fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord—suggests intimacy and not a club membership.

The full meaning of who Jesus is, our Messiah and Lord who shares himself with each of us, means our faith is first a person, and Jesus is key to it. Risen Jesus revealed himself as our key: The Amen, the faithful and true witness, the source of God’s creation.8 This Year of Faith affords us opportunities to meet Jesus in new ways. Meeting Jesus in new ways helps us grasp and rightly understand9 what we profess in worship and what our faithful friendship with our Amen leads, helps and empowers us to live.

When we pause and ponder Jesus, it becomes clearer that his faith was the way he lived. In his humanity Jesus depended on God for everything. Jesus’ pattern of living is our pattern for living. Jesus’ self-gift to us includes his faith. Our faith is the person of Jesus, the righteous one who died and is risen; our union with Jesus makes each of us right with God so we may be in right relationship with each other. To say that most briefly: Jesus is both door and key. He gives himself to us to open and enter.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week

  • Calm yourself in our triune God.
  • Ask the communion of saints to present you to Jesus.
  • Speak with Jesus: praise him for dying and rising to be our Amen, the faithful and true witness. Ask him to bless our Year of Faith and each one’s participation in it.
  • Ask Jesus for grace to be more alert to his presence with you and for you to share and live his faith.
  • Close, saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. When we end his prayer with our Amen, we mean more than so be it; we give ourselves to Jesus, to his way of living and desire his faith, the faith of our Messiah who befriends us, to be our faith, so we may befriend Jesus in new ways for the sake of our world.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise

  1. His Apostolic Letter, “Door of Faith,” 2.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Aman entry in the Genesius Lexicon.
  4. Deuteronomy 7.9 (RSV)
  5. Exodus 3.7-8.
  6. 1Corinthians 1.9; also 10.13.
  7. Hebrews 12.2.
  8. Revelation 3.14.
  9. Collect of Votive Mass2. “The Mercy of God,” Roman Missal. We used it to open the Year of Faith.
Wiki-image by AlejandroLinaresGarcia of 18th C lock and key is used by CC BY-SA 3.0. Wiki-image by Ivan Grohar of Jesus was released into the public domain in the U.S.

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